How do I find a good church?
by Hank Hanegraaff
One of the questions I am most frequently asked is “How do I find a good church?” This question has taken on added significance in recent years because of the massive impact televangelism has had on our culture. In all too may cases, worship has been replaced with entertainment, and fellowship has been transformed into individualism. In view of these cultural developments, it is critical that Christians have a handle on the ingredients of a healthy, well-balanced church.
The first sign of a healthy, well-balanced church is a pastor who is committed to leading the community of faith in the worship of God through prayer, praise, and proclamation. Prayer is so inextricably woven into the fabric of worship that it would be unthinkable to have a church service without it. From the very inception of the early Christian church, prayer has been a primary means of worshiping God. Through prayer, we have the privilege of expressing adoration and thanksgiving to the One who saved us, sanctifies us, and one day will glorify us. In fact, our Lord himself set the pattern by teaching his disciples the Prayer of Jesus (Matthew 6:9–13).
Praise is another key ingredient of worship. Scripture urges us to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). Singing psalms is a magnificent means for intercession, instruction, and the internalization of Scripture. In addition, the great hymns of the faith have stood the test of time and are rich in theological tradition and truth. Spiritual songs, in turn, communicate the freshness of our faith. Thus, it is crucial that we preserve both a respect for our spiritual heritage and a regard for contemporary compositions.
Along with prayer and praise, proclamation is axiomatic to experiencing vibrant worship. Paul urged his protégé Timothy to “preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:2–3). Church leaders must once again produce in their people a holy hunger for the Word of God. For it is through the proclamation of God’s Word that believers are edified, exhorted, encouraged, and equipped…
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